Alumni Spotlight: Heather Woodhams, ‘11

This week’s Alumni Spotlight shines on Heather Woodhams of Seattle, Washington, who is originally from Topsham, Maine. She is a 2011 UMM graduate of the Marine Biology Program. Heather is currently a North Pacific Groundfish Observer.

Tell us a little bit about what you are doing now:

I currently work for Saltwater Inc., a contractor to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).  I work primarily in the Bering Sea collecting biological data for stock management in multiple commercial fisheries.

What is the most valuable thing you learned while at UMM?

The most valuable thing I learned while at UMM was probably the use of dichotomous keys.  I use them very frequently at work. Knowing how to use them and basic fish anatomy are

the basics in my job.

Do you have any advice for current students at UMM?

Get involved!  Find a professor you like and try and work for them.  I worked for Dr. Kraus for multiple years doing a variety of work.  Although the work I am currently doing does not specifically pertain to what I did for her, it helped me get to where I am.  I learned so much from her outside of class, it has been very beneficial for me since UMM.

My other suggestion would be to start thinking about the future now.  I didn’t think about Grad school or what I wanted to do after UMM until I graduated.  I have realized now that I should have been thinking about what I would do next a lot sooner.

How did your time at UMM prepare you for what you are doing now?

My classes in the Marine Bio program have been vital.  Classes like Ichthyology, Algal biology and Genetics taught me a lot of what I use everyday in the field.  Field work, statistics

and my GIS have also been important.

How has UMM made a positive impact on your life?

UMM taught me a lot about work ethic and working independently.  I feel I received a valuable education that has prepared me for multiple job fields.    I am very glad I went to UMM and I feel it has prepared me well.